I Need a #%$@& Title

Maybe this isn’t the sort of thing one is supposed to admit on a writer’s blog, but… I need a title.

I mean that I desperately need a title.

The manuscript is done – revised and copy edited with a cherry on top. Cover art is in progress. Publication date has been set.

And I still don’t know what to call the damned thing.

Titles usually come to me easily. Somewhere during the process of crafting that first draft, they just pop up and announce themselves.

This one has not announced itself, which has left me scouring the thesaurus and testing the patience of my spouse by shooting down every suggestion he patiently, kindly comes up with.

(“Path of the Jaguar?”
“No.”
“Night of the Jaguar.”
“No.”
“The Mystery of the Jaguar.”
“Babe, there’s no jaguar in this book.”)

I have exhausted synonyms. Shakespeare has left me destitute. If anyone mentions the words ‘Smoke’, ‘Fortune’ or ‘Shadows’ to me, I’m likely to throw an unsuspecting houseplant at them.

Titles are tricky beasts at the best of times, and publishing a first novel is not the best of times. When you can’t rely on name recognition or even – in the case of this particular book – a spot on a tidy genre shelf to help you sell, a title has to do much more of the heavy lifting.

My requirements for this one are that it:

  • Signal clearly that the book is an adventure story
  • Present an attention-grabbing sense of mystery and intrigue
  • Evoke heat and intensity
  • Actually have something to do with the book

Having exhausted all rational courses of action, I’m left with the irrational.

I will no longer toss nouns around in my brain, or speculate whether the addition of a preposition might turn an otherwise blah arrangement of words into perfection.

Instead, I will try desperately to go Zen on this business, emptying all thoughts of title from my mind after throwing my need out there to the Great Moving Power of the universe and hoping it answers me by way of a snarky traffic alert sign or a fortuitous Grateful Dead lyric.

Wish me luck.